I was in Sunday school at my home church this Sunday. We were discussing faith, and there was a question of what you would say to a skeptic or someone who didn’t understand faith in God. One woman answered; I’ll call her “Janet.” She and her husband are probably the most dogmatic and fundamentalist people in our church.
Her story was that she’d always had seizures ever since she was a kid. She ran into a new Christian friend once at McDonalds. This friend is just full of the spirit, Janet said. Janet said how she can’t drive because of the seizures, and the woman asked if she wanted to be healed.
Janet said she was filled with all kinds of emotions then. She told her friend that she’d been prayed for before, and she really didn’t think anything would happen. But the friend insisted that God could do all things.
So they sat down and prayed right there in McDonalds, and the friend laid hands on Janet. When they were done, the friend said she knew Janet would be healed. She didn’t think it would happen right away, but she knew God would heal her in His time.
I never would have thought it was possible, Janet said, but now look at me. It’s been close to a hundred days since I’ve had any seizures. Ever since my operation, I’ve been cured.
Yes, you heard that right. This woman recently was in the hospital for some MAJOR brain surgery to treat her seizures. They cut her head open and everything. And so far the surgery’s been successful.
This to her is a miraculous answer to prayer.
And she didn’t try to downplay the surgery, or act like she’d “really” been healed before it. She knew she’d had surgery, and that was when the seizures stopped, but she still called it a miracle.
Everything just fell into place for the surgery to happen, she said; I didn’t even ask for it, my doctor just knew that I needed it. Yes of course, because a trained medical professional who is being paid to take care of your health wouldn’t possibly figure out that you might need surgery unless God whispered it in his ear.
She was just blown away that, all it took was prayer and faith by this righteous woman in McDonalds, and hey presto, she gets healed. She seems to think she got surgery and the surgery worked entirely because this woman prayed.
Where would I be, she said, if I hadn’t believed that day?
And remember, this was the part where they were supposed to say what acts of faith they had seen which they could share with a skeptic.
Then Janet’s husband speaks up. He says, as accurately as I can remember, “I don’t see how these atheists can deny God. When you look at history, all these seemingly unconnected events – you see God in history. God is the author of history. When they deny God, they’re denying history.”
I don’t even understand what he means by that.
I am not completely atheist yet. Sometimes I still think Jesus is out there, and I’m just not seeing him. Sometimes when I read apologetics or Christian experiences, I start to think I might be on the wrong path and I’ll have to repent. But whenever I go to Sunday School at my home church, I come out thinking more than ever before that there is no god out there.
I only wish I had the courage to say something to some of these people. I will someday.
I'm in the middle of reading an excellent book: "Jesus and Philosophy" by Don Cupitt. It digs very expertly into Jesus' ethical teachings, and makes the case that that was his main concern, rather than being the Son of God. I've been working on the "atheist morality" problem for a couple of years now, and he touches on all the main points in the landscape as far as I'm concerned (much more articulately than me). And yes, Jesus has been a major guiding influence in the project, along with Buddha - which may be surprising. This book may make you fall in love with Jesus all over again.
I think I might pass, then. Every time I find some seed of wisdom that comes from Jesus, I think about him condemning a fig tree to death because it had no fruit. Broken clocks and all that.
"I've been working on the "atheist morality" problem for a couple of years now..." -Simon
Are you referring to the problem theists, specifically abrahamic theists, have with accepting the fact that morals is not necessarily derived from a religious book and is quite possibly genetically influenced, or are you implying that there exists some sort of bogus theist notion that atheists have a morality problem?
"...the "atheist morality" problem..."
I chuckled when I read that.
Problem as in "question". Christians are able to mock atheists by saying that our morality has no solid basis of any kind. I've found one, and I'm attempting to justify everything on the grounds of "what's in it for me?". (A happier, more successful life, basically.)
I'm with Reg on this, keep it to yourself, find a Skeptical group to hang with (and by Skeptical group I don't mean an Atheist group), an informal philosophy group would be good and fun as well. These groups tend to attract more open-minded people.
Good Luck in throwing off the yoke.
You've got some good observation and critical thinking skills going on. Sure, you may have to repent later, but doesn't Jesus allow for straying and then repenting? I think it is good to observe and think for yourself, and to get input and feedback from people with other points of view.
Delusions are impervious to logic and reason.
"I still think Jesus is out there, and I’m just not seeing him"
Set out to find God in Jesus and chances are that's what you will find. In most searches for knowledge, if you start off with the answer, most of what you encounter will reinforce that answer. If, instead, you critically examine evidence without prejudgment, if you put yourself in the position of an alien visitor encountering every aspect of human society objectively, as if for the very first time, you will soon reach the truth.
When I reached that point, my next quest for knowledge was (is) to find out how, in the face of the overwhelming evidence, such a HUGE proportion of humanity could possibly believe in this supernatural silliness.
If, instead, you critically examine evidence without prejudgment, if you put yourself in the position of an alien visitor encountering every aspect of human society objectively, as if for the very first time, you will soon reach the truth.
I try to live my life by this mode of thinking. It amazes me how idiotic most people are when they aren't thinking too hard. At the store where I work, we are under going renovations. So far, we've only moved two of 15 shelves around, and I get people asking me where things that we haven't moved at all are. They accuse me of lying when I tell them it's still in the exact same place. We've removed one of the entrance doors, leaving two exits and one entrance. People now attempt to push open the exits, despite the fact that there is a large red sign on it saying "DO NOT ENTER", and an even bigger sign on the entrance saying "ENTRANCE" in large red letters. My goal for my life is to be as bright and good a person when I'm not paying attention as I am when I am paying attention. It's not easy, but if I can get it nailed down, I think I might be able to teach others how to think critically and logically as well. Of course, I might be rolling a bolder up a hill with a small peak.